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From the December 2012 Battle Mountain News

posted Jul 3, 2014, 3:16 PM by Joe Christy

Securing the Home Ignition Zone

As the size and severity of Wildland-Urban Interface [WUI] fires has grown, research is changing long held assumptions about them.

The WUI is not so much a place as a set of conditions where wildfire can spread to homes and overwhelm fire suppression efforts, as in the 2007 Witch fire in San Diego. In California, wildland fire is natural and often beneficial to the environment. Research shows that the 1700° flame front of a wildfire passes in about 50 seconds. Exposure to 1700° degrees will inflict 2nd degree burns on a human in about 5 seconds, but the same heat takes 27 minutes to ignite a structure. People die in WUI fires from heat of the flame front. Homes, on the other hand, catch fire in the the ember blizzard that the flame front drives before it.

The Home Ignition Zone [HIZ] is the area, 30-90' in radius around a home, where embers can start a fire that ignites a home. The fact is that securing the HIZ, in easy stages, starting with your roof, then working down and outward can reduce the wildfire risk to the point where a wildfire can pass your completely unattended home leaving it unharmed. By now, entire communities, for example Casino Ridge in the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire in Yorba Linda, have survived wildland fire, totally evacuated, and without firefighters present! If we stop homes from igniting, fire suppression efforts in neighborhoods aren't needed, much less overwhelmed.

In coming months, we will bring you more information on how to make the community the fuelbreak.

A Day A Month To Make Bonny Doon Fire Safe?

In order to afford to build roughly four miles of grant-funded fuel breaks in Bonny Doon this year, the Fire Safe Council uses minimal cost Ben Lomond Camp Crews. To use the crews, there needs to be, beyond the CAL FIRE captain directing them, a community “sponsor” or two to serve as extra pairs of eyes. Since March, 9 volunteers have contributed 88 days of their time. We will need about 9 more days to complete prescribed burns of the cut and dried material in our first 1.75 miles by December 31. Then, by May, we need about 25 days to clear another two miles of fuel break on the Cotoni Redwoods along upper Empire Grade.

We could really use some more help. The work we are doing is aimed at making the whole community safer by securing the main access and evacuation road on the mountain from fire. The upper Empire will afford an opportunity to see some beautiful country that has not been open to the public and probably won't be for at least another few years while the management plan is developed and implemented.

What does it entail? Once a month, you show up at the job site about 9 AM and are home by 4 PM; in between you stay within sight of the inmates. There is a prerequisite half day training. The next two trainings are Wednesday and Thursday, December 5 and 6, 9am – 1pm at the camp, 13575 Empire Grade. While some say that sponsoring is a job without reward, please consider the benefit to the community. If you can help make our community Fire Safe, please contact us.


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